NOTE: This page is archived. It is no longer being maintained or updated and information may not be accurate or complete.


October 18: 4Corners section of APS at DU, consider presenting!

September 23: 5th Annual Symposium on STEM Education

May 14: Physics Talk: Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 1:00PM in DUAN D142 (first floor, D-Wing of Duane Physics)

Adrian Madsen: Data Explorer and Assessment Resources for Physics Faculty: A Project Overview
This talk will present an overview of a recently funded NSF project around research-based assessment in physics in connection with the PER User's Guide ( The PER User's Guide is a web resource to help physics faculty learn about and apply the results of physics education research (PER) in their classrooms. We are expanding the site to include assessment resources, including guidance for assessing your students' learning, using assessment to improve your teaching, and meeting accreditation requirements through research-based assessment practices. A key component of our assessment resources will be a database of research-based assessment instrument scores and an accompanying data explorer. Here physics instructors can upload their students’ assessment data and compare it to the larger data set. The system includes “one-click analysis”, enabling users to visualize their data, make comparisons and view statistics such as gain scores, effect sizes, and statistical significance. Users can compare their data in a variety of ways, such as to data from peer institutions, national data, or before and after a change in teaching method. We plan to conduct a large-scale comparison of assessment data from traditional and interactive-engagement classes as the database is populated. We look forward to your feedback and comments.

May 07: SEI/CSL End-of-Year Event

The Center for STEM Learning and Science Education Initiative will host and end-of-year poster event on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. The event will be held in the UMC Glenn Miller Ballroom from 8:30am to 1:30pm. Come see the posters from various departments and programs across campus! It's a wonderful opportunity to connect with other STEM education researchers.
Celebrating CU Boulder's STEM Education Efforts, Featuring Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and US Rep Jared polis.

April 24: John Falk presentation

John H. Falk, Ph.D., Director, Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, and Sea Grant Professor of Free-Choice Learning at Oregon State University will hold a presentation at the University of Colorado. The presentation, "An Ecological Approach to Understanding Lifelong Learning," will be held in the University of Colorado Museum's Paleontology Hall at 4pm on Wednesday, April 24, 2013.

January 10: BASEC Quarterly Meeting

The Boulder Area STEM Education Coalition will hold this year's first quarterly meeting on January 10, 2013. Come join the discussions in JILA X-Wing conference area from 5:30 - 7:00PM. Keynote speakers will include Eric Cornell, Nobel Laureate in Physics 2001. This is an opportunity for university faculty members and researchers to connect with the research industry and the community and discuss STEM initiatives.


December 05: School of Education Fall Colloquium

Professor Bridget Dalton will be speaking about designing and teaching with multi modal literacy environments. The talk will run from 11:45am - 1:00pm in Education Room 334.

October 1: 4th Annual Symposium on STEM Education

The iSTEM program is hosting its Fourth Annual Symposium on STEM Education. The event will be held in the Club Level of Folsom Field from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Many programs around campus will be showcased in a poster session, after which an awards ceremony will honor this year's Chancellor's Fellows. See the event page for details and instructions about how to register!

August 15: Clicker Seminar

Stephanie Chasteen will give a seminar about producing effective clicker questions for lectures. The seminar will take place on August 15, 2012 from 2:30PM to 4:30PM in ATLAS 200. See the event page for details and contact Stephanie Chasteen about questions or to register.

March 21: Math Education Talk - Karina Hansberry

Karina Hansberry will visit CU March 21-22 as a postdoctoral candidate for PhET's open position in math education. She will be giving a talk on her research in DUAN D142 at 12pm on Wednesday, March 21.
The Instrumental Practices and Perspectives of Highly Effective Teachers of Diverse Students: Case Studies from Mathematics Classrooms
Abstract: It is well known that students of color and students who live in poverty struggle in mathematics (Davis & Martin, 2008; Dewan, 2010; Kelly, 2009; Post et al., 2008; Rothstein, 2002; Thompson & Lewis, 2007; Tutwiler, 2007). Standards-based teaching has been theorized as one way to help them overcome these struggles (Boaler, 1997, 1998, 2000; NCTM, 2000), and there is evidence to support such a theory (e.g., Boaler, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002; Charles & Lester, 1984; Ginsburg-Block & Fantuzzo, 1998; Post et al., 2008; Schoenfeld, 1987, 2002; Van Haneghan et al., 2004). Teaching in a culturally responsive way has additionally been suggested as a framework for supporting diverse students to succeed academically (Banks et al., 2005; Bonner, 2011; Gay, 2000; 2002; Gutstein et al., 1997; Ladson-Billings, 1994, 1995a, 1995b, 1997; Peterek, 2009; Tate, 1995), but prior studies on cultural responsiveness do not adequately characterize the aspects of culturally responsive teaching that are unique to mathematics, nor do many studies describe the nature of mathematics instruction in culturally responsive classrooms. There are few studies that explicitly focus on both standards-based mathematics teaching and culturally responsive teaching (e.g., Gutstein et al., 1997). There is some literature to suggest that students need more than just, for example, the problem-based instruction and class discussions characteristic of reform to support them to learn mathematics, particularly when the norms, communication and interaction patterns, and ways of thinking viewed as necessary to mathematical success are in conflict with the culture of the student (Gee, 2008; Lubienski, 2000a, 2000b, 2002; Zevenbergen, 2002). This leads one to question whether it is the attention to mathematical process standards, students’ cultures, or something else that results in some teachers being particularly effective with traditionally under performing students. This dissertation study examines the teaching practices and perspectives of two mathematics teachers identified as highly effective with traditionally low-achieving students of color. Specifically, the way their instruction aligns (or fails to align) with standards-based and culturally responsive teaching practices are explored. Preliminary results of one case will be presented.

March 15: Math Education Talk - Ian Whitacre

Ian Whitacre will visit CU as a postdoctoral candidate for PhET's open position in math education. He will be giving a talk on his research in DUAN G1B31 at 11am.
Improving the rational-number sense of prospective elementary teachers: Extending a local instruction theory from whole-number mental computation to reasoning about fraction magnitude.
Abstract: This report comes out of a program of research concerning the number sense of prospective elementary teachers. We have designed a local instruction theory (LIT) for number sense development, which has informed instruction in a mathematics content course for prospective elementary teachers. Originally, the LIT was focused primarily on whole-number mental computation. Data from survey instruments and interviews with study participants indicated substantial improvement in their number sense, especially in the area of whole-number mental computation. Interview participants grew from being reliant on the mental analogues of the standard written algorithms to reasoning flexibly about numbers and operations. In a recent classroom teaching experiment, we extended the application of the LIT to the rational-number domain in a unit on reasoning about fraction magnitude, and we found similar improvements in participants’ number sense. In the context of fraction comparison tasks, interview participants grew from dependence on standard algorithms to reasoning flexibly about fraction magnitude. The talk will address the broader design research program, the marriage of frameworks concerning number sense and reasoning about fraction magnitude, classroom activity during the fraction-magnitude unit, results of analyses of interview data, and directions of ongoing and future research.

February 17: Graduate student speaker gives a talk about the gender learning gap

1pm in DUAN C324
Abstract: The small yet persistent gender gap associated with introductory physics courses remains intact despite interactive engagement techniques. One hypothesis is that females are at fundamental disadvantage due to gender stereotypes. Previous research at Michigan State University has described the timescale differences associated with genders and on-line homework. Furthermore, males tend to use process of elimination, while females tend to talk with other classmates before answering again. After tutorials, do genders still respond on two fundamentally different timescales? Does this relationship change for questions at a different cognitive level? We seek to answer these questions using clicker data from the interactive Lyman Briggs College physics classroom. We answer these questions in two ways: (1) determine the fraction of correct responses as function of the last recorded response time (when do most students actually get the answer right); and (2) determine the fraction of total responses as a function of last recorded response time (when do they think they have the answer right). We show that there are no statistically significant discrepancies between genders for any cognitive level. We discuss the implications of these results within the context of gender stereotypes in the classroom environment and think-pair-share pedagogy.

Group Meeting Archives

Group Meetings Held Thursdays 12 PM 11th Floor Gamow Tower Reading room unless otherwise noted.


Congrats on the semester. Group meetings will begin again May 15, 2014.

May 8: 2p Physics: Come to Departmental Graduation

May 1: All Group - Group Debrief / Updates, Planning for Summer

Apr 24: David Lieberman - on CU's Intro Physics MOOC and Plans for a 2 Year College study: aka what I did on sabbatical

Apr 17: Ricardo Karam: On Mathematics use in Physics

Apr 10: Jack Olsen: Prep for MS Defense: a comparative study of 3 introducotry physics learning enviornents

Apr 3: Rosemary Wulf: Prep for MS Defense: Comparative studies of pedagogical approaches in informal physics learning


August 29: Brian Greene (tentative) from Columbia

July 11: Steve Pollock - AAPT Prep, come ready to share your talk/poster


Mike Dubson - MOOCS and the remainder of group debriefs


Heather Lewandowski - Brief update on the experimental CLASS test (e-CLASS), and national moves in lab transformation
All: first half of a round-table review of summer plans/research - come prepared to share research plans and/or projects to present at AAPT/PERC


John Mark Aiken and Shih-Yin Lin - Georgia Tech PER Group
Can students tell whether other students are building models? You decide!
Abstract: Building and communicating how models work is one of the most important activities in science. But how do we get students to build and talk about their models AND assess them in a meaningful way when you have a classroom size of 100, 1000, or 100000? Peer review, of course! Our students are documenting experiments and computational models with video lab reports. These videos are then given to other students who assess the videos with an instructor provided rubric. But does this rubric mean anything? That's where you come in. We need your help designing this rubric to be the best that it can be. We already have the framework, but let's make sure all the little pieces mean something to the experts as well as the students.


Review of the new NAS/NRC Report: Adapting to a Changing World--Challenges and Opportunities in Undergraduate Physics Education
From the Committee on Undergraduate Physics Education Research and Implementation

April 04: AJ Richards, Rutgers - How students combine resources to build understanding of complex ideas [in physics]

Abstract: The field of Physics Education Research (PER) seeks to investigate how students learn physics and how instructors can help students learn more effectively. The process by which learners create understanding about a complex physics concept is an active area of research. My study explores this process, using solar cells as the context. To understand how a photovoltaic cell works involves drawing knowledge from many different areas of physics, so this provides a fertile area to study how students build understanding of complex ideas. I have used the ``knowledge in pieces" theoretical framework to understand how students learn about solar cells by activating cognitive resources. In this framework, we can see learners building understanding out of more basic bits of knowledge, known as resources, that are derived from students' prior experience. This study seeks to learn more about how students combine multiple resources as they construct understanding of a complex physics topic. To achieve this goal, I have created instructional materials and assessment instruments used to collect written and spoken data on students' reasoning. The analysis of this data revealed that students are most likely to successfully build understanding when they activate multiple types of resource simultaneously. I propose possible explanations for this pattern and present ways this finding could impact instruction.

March 28: NO PER THIS WEEK: Spring Break

March 21: Julian Smith - A game based approach to exam review sessions in introductory astronomy

Professor Matt Davis, School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Queensland - Physics Education Reforms in Australia
Roundtable of current projects and proposed ideas for PERC/AAPT, and if time permits, a quick debrief of the national PhysTEC Conference.

March 14: Rosemary Wulf - CU Physics & PISEC, Studying and supporting the development of mechanistic reasoning of youth through informal physics programs

March 07: Brian Frank, Middle Tennessee State University - Transformative Experiences in Physics: Sorting through Phenomena and Theory

February 28: Brian Couch - Capstone Assessment in Molecular Biology

Students majoring in biology typically take a semi-prescribed series of courses aimed at helping them master central concepts, develop practical competencies, and cultivate higher-order cognitive skills. We have developed a molecular biology capstone assessment to gauge student understanding of core molecular biology concepts and their ability to apply these concepts to novel scenarios. Targeted at senior-level students, this assessment utilizes a unique multiple true-false format where each question consists of a narrative stem followed by four true-false statements. Each question was developed with extensive faculty and student input, including content-validation through faculty feedback and response-validation through student interviews. Results from an online pilot administration of this assessment indicate that advanced students exhibit a wide range of achievement levels across different conceptual areas. Once complete, this assessment will provide a valuable tool for departments to pinpoint areas of conceptual difficulty and guide subsequent curricular reform.

February 21: Mike Dubson - MOOCs in Physics 1 and Ed Johnsen - Better Course Management system than D2L or Blackboard

February 14: Ben Zwickl & Takako Hirokawa - eCLASS studies

Experimental-CLASS: a new instrument for evaluating students' understanding, beliefs, and views about experimental physics. National and local (CU) results will be presented.

February 07: Ben Van Dusen & Ramon Barthelemy - Reviewing Graduate Experience in PER

This meeting will include a brief update and summary of the Graduate Preparing Future Physicists/Scientists (and Engineers) program from Ben Spike.

January 31: Melissa Dancy - Policy Recommendations from research on faculty use of & student participation in research based instructional strategies

January 24: NOTE: Meeting in the READING ROOM - Katie Hinko: Studies of Informal Science Education impacts on university students

January 17: Kathy Perkins - This will be a practice talk for the TUES conference panel. Below is a description.

Each panelist will have 5 to 7 minutes to present. Panel members include 6 presenters from different scientific disciplines who had funding from TUES/CCLI for 10 years or more. As per Myles Boylan's email, we would like you to discuss "synergies" and research sustainability that long term funding has made possible (understanding that the funding is segmented into a series of grants), including having good evidence that your project improved undergraduate STEM education. We are also interested in lessons learned, including:
***Challenges and how you overcame those challenges;
***Unanticipated outcomes;
***What internal and external resources and support you needed to build and sustain a long-term program, other than more grant funds; and
**What keeps you going.

January 10: Informal Meeting

Discussions of alternate times of interest and gearing up for meetings throughout the semester. Welcome back!
Roundtable of upcoming activities, including AAPT winter meeting in New Orleans, LA.


December 13: Ben Spike - Physics TA's Development of Pedagogical Content Knowledge/Beliefs

December 06: Brian Jones - CSU Physics & Director of Little Shop of Physics

November 29: Bethany Wilcox & Danny Caballero - A Tale of Classes: upper division physics' students' perceptions of instructional practices

Abstract: At CU, physics majors are now in a position where they experience the full range of lecture styles from chalk-and-talk to using a variety of active-learning pedagogical techniques. In particular, current junior-level students are taking a semi-transformed classical mechanics course that is immediately followed (in the same damn room) by a traditional electrostatics course. This unique situation provides a valuable opportunity to explore how students perceive these radically different instructional approaches, and to document their reflections on how different aspects of instruction in these courses improve their understanding of course material. Our aim is not to investigate if students prefer active learning over other approaches, but to determine if they can articulate both how they think they learn and what aspects of instruction jive with those ideas. We will present some initial data collected from student interviews. Our goal is to turn this interview protocol into a survey that can be administered easily at the end of this semester to a larger group of students.


November 16: James Huff - EERG Group Meeting, 12:00pm in the Onizuka Conference Room

Our speaker this week is a doctoral candidate at Purdue in Engineering Education--James Huff. In addition to his doctoral work on developing socially aware engineers, James is the Assistant Administrator for the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) Program at Purdue. HE will be speaking about the EPICS program including their reach into international project and a study that he's done with alumni from that program.

November 15: Group Debrief on the Semester / Current Projects

Please plan on bringing your projects to share the status and next steps to the group. There will be an informal roundtable discussion.

November 8: Jane Stout - Exploring how communal goals might explain the gender gap in STEM

Abstract: Women are underrepresented in some, but not all science disciplines. In the current work, I will look at the role of women and men's personal life goals on their decisions to pursue and persist in various types of science careers. I expect that women and men's perceptions about their ability to meet their life goals through various science careers will ultimately predict their career interests in the sciences. This work has implications for issues related to recruitment and retention of a strong and diverse workforce in the sciences, and STEM in particular.

November 1: Louis Deslauriers, University of British Columbia - Increased Learning in University Physics Courses, Recent Data and Methods

October 25: Eugenia Etkina and Rob Zisk, Rutgers University - Why is this true? Helping students learn to read and reason using the textbook

Abstract: Students have difficulties comprehending science texts. The interrogation method, a question based reading strategy, which prompts students to read sentences from the text and answer, “Why is this true?” has been developed to enhance students’ ability to read and comprehend science texts (Smith, et. al 2009). To enact this method, instructors must choose sentences that are both important conceptually and deeply able to be interrogated (interrogatable). We explored the use of this method in an introductory physics course for non-physics majors. The teaching assistants (pre-service teachers), learning assistants (undergraduate physics majors), and the course instructor chose sentences for each chapter of the text, and the students were asked to interrogate 2-4 of the sentences each chapter. We analyzed the conceptual importance of the sentences and their interrogatability, based on underlying epistemologies. We are now beginning to analyze student responses to the questions on both weekly homework and exams. Based on analysis of the chosen sentences and student responses, we developed a model for choosing productive sentences to interrogate.

October 18: Dimitri Dounas-Fraser, UC Berkeley - Can learning about measurement uncertainty change students' beliefs about grades?

Abstract: What does it mean for a measurement to be "good"? Are grades "good" measurements? These two questions form the overarching theme for a course on measurement that was designed and taught by the Compass Project at UC Berkeley. In this talk, I'll discuss how we provide context for the first question with a simple thermal expansion experiment through which students explore the effects of systematic measurement biases. I'll also describe our approach to addressing the second question through assigned readings, class discussions, and comparison of grades to qualitative self-evaluations. The goal of this talk, however, is not just descriptive. I'd like to solicit feedback from CU's PER community about the class in general and assessment in particular. For instance, how can we tell whether our class is changing students' beliefs about grades?

October 11: Noah Podolefsky - Guiding without Feeling Guided: Implicitly Scaffolding Student Use of Computer Simulations

Abstract: This talk will present, broadly, the PhET group's philosophy of computer simulation design and use. We present a theoretical framework, implicit scaffolding, which supports student use and exploration of PhET sims without the need for explicit instructions. We motivate this approach to scaffolding with literature that suggests certain advantages to low levels of explicit guidance in learning activities. The framework is grounded in research on tool use and human computer interaction. We will demonstrate the utility of this framework through the example of a computer simulation, Energy Skate Park Basics. With data from student interviews, we build a case that this simulation, by virtue of implicit scaffolding, guides student exploration without the students "feeling guided", and leads to student learning of energy ideas with minimal intervention by the interviewer.

October 04: Julia Chamberlain - PhET Interactive Simulations: Research, design and use of chemistry teaching and learning tools

Abstract: The PhET Interactive Simulations project at the University of Colorado Boulder develops interactive chemistry simulations designed to be highly engaging and educationally effective for students. PhET’s simulation design principles draw upon cognitive research on how people learn and discipline-based research on student difficulties with chemistry concepts. The simulations provide interactive environments in which students learn through scientist-like exploration and experimentation. They emphasize the connections between real life phenomena and the underlying science, make the invisible visible, and include the visual models that experts use to aid their thinking. In this talk, I will share PhET’s design process, highlight our current research on how implementation affects students’ simulation use, and conclude with suggested practices to enhance learning and engagement in a variety of environments.

September 27: Melissa Dancy - Report on Roots of STEM project and interview protocol feedback

Abstract: I will share current findings of the project "Roots of STEM: Interactive influences of individual, secondary school, and college institutional factors on the success of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM majors". This is a large two phased project to better understand the impact of race and gender on STEM majors. The first phase involved the analysis of a large data set of pre-college and college experiences of over 21,000 students. The second phase will focus on interviews with 300 current college seniors who either majored in STEM, abandoned a STEM major, or showed an aptitude for STEM but chose not to pursue a major. In particular I seek advice and feedback on the currently under development interview protocol for this large group of students.

September 20: Ian Her Many Horses - Elementary Students' Processes of Doing Computer Science

Abstract: This talk will discuss the design and planning processes that have taken place at the El Pueblo Magico (EPM) after-school program when students work to create games or simulations using an agent-based programming tool. From the data gathered at the site, trends have emerged showing what the students do to create their games/simulations and what the “expert” does to help them along the way. These trends lead to various findings, which are centered on the students’ ability to move from using their everyday language to the language used by the programming tool. The future of this work will explore how to help students to make this transition so that they may explore deeper issues in developing games/simulations.

September 13: Randy Tagg, CU Denver - Propagating Practical-Minded Physicists

Abstract: How do we turn creatures that can solve problems at the back of the chapter with varying degrees of success into theory/computer/instrumentation savvy practitioners who can use physics in the real world and perhaps become entrepreneurs? Along the way, can these same individuals do great work in research labs, even as early as high school? What measures are there for success? I'll summarize a highly modular approach to answering these questions and describe steps towards implementation both at UC Denver and in various K-12 schools... particularly in Aurora. Collaborators are eagerly sought.

August 9: AAPT recap and book reviews

This week we will have a quick discussion about the AAPT/PERC meeting and then talk about the APS national meeting in Denver coming up in the spring. PER at CU has been asked to organize a few sessions. Finally we will review the physics of dance book.

July 23: Visitor Arnaldo Vaz - from Brazil

Arnaldo Vaz of Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais; Colégio Técnico da Escola de Educação Básica e Profissional will visit the week of July 22 to engage in discussions with our PER group on various topics. He is interested and involved in the sociocultural theories of learning and spent the last year at Maryland working with the University of Maryland program on teaching physics to life-science majors.
Negotiating Institutional Barriers in Teaching Scientific Reasoning and Attitudes
He is interested in giving an informal (or formal) talk to PER and DBER this week. He would like to hear the groups' questions about the Coltec UFMG methodological solutions to the constraints we all face to investigate subtle barriers students encounter in research inspired teaching contexts aimed at fostering scientific reasoning and attitudes on top of conceptual maturity.

July 19: Kris Gutierrez - Identity, Community, and Science Learning

Also: Preparation for PERC 2012 and practice talks for AAPT/PERC.

We will host visitor Arnaldo Vaz of Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil

July 12: David Meltzer: Arizona State University - The Development of Research-Based Physics Instruction in the United States

Abstract: The earliest advocates of school science instruction envisioned students actively engaged in investigation and discovery, leading to deep conceptual understanding. As availability of, and access to, science instruction exploded in the 1890s, school physics instruction came to emphasize rote problem solving and execution of prescribed laboratory procedures; strenuous efforts to counter this trend were unsuccessful. Later, instructional emphasis shifted to descriptions of technological devices accompanied by superficial summaries of related physical principles. In the 1960s, powerful movements led by university scientists attempted to transform school science back towards its original instructional goals. Several parallel efforts began to focus on related transformations in college physics instruction. By the 1970s, university-based physicists had initiated systematic research efforts to support instructional reforms at the college level. In the 1980s, this movement expanded rapidly and led to a plethora of new, research-based instructional approaches. Although a vast array of research-based instructional materials in physics are now available, wide dissemination and application of these materials are constrained by social and cultural forces identical to those that derailed analogous efforts over one hundred years ago.


Practice AAPT/PERC talks - Come ready with your presentations and/or posters!

May 7: Ed Price: California State University, San Marcos - Developing large enrollment, conceptual physics courses: active-learning and science practices for non-majors

Abstract: Conceptual physics curricula that engage students in active learning and scientific practices are typically intended for small courses (< 30 students) with a discussion/lab format. We have been exploring ways to do this in larger, lecture format courses. We adapted the small enrollment, lab and discussion based physical science course, Physical Science and Everyday Thinking, for a large enrollment, lecture style setting. Like PSET, the new Learning Physical Science (LEPS) curriculum is designed around specific principles based on research on learning to meet the needs of non-science students, especially prospective and practicing elementary and middle school teachers. In many respects, the adaptation of LEPS from PSET was successful; however, some important practices of science that were an integral part of PSET were not included in LEPS due to practical constraints. I will describe the adaptation process, compare activities from the two curricula, and share recent efforts to engage students further in practices of science.

April 30: Danny Caballero - Transformations of Classical Mechanics/Math Methods: A review and a request

He will be reviewing the work on the transformation of Classical Mechanics. He will highlight the addition of computational instruction to the course and the final computational project students are completing this week. Finally, he will describe the general outline for an AJP article describing the experiences this semester and open up for discussion and feedback.

April 23: Noah Podolefsky - Talking about implicit scaffolding and redesign of Energy Skate Park for middle schoolers. Registration for AAPT will be open soon, and the PERC deadline is June 1st.

April 16: Chandra Turpen - Building an LA program at UMaryland, and perhaps Integrative Physiology and Physics Curriculum

Chandra will be unable to join us in person, so this meeting will be conducted via Skype.

April 09: Ben Zwickl - Presenting on Upper Division Laboratory Reform in Physics

Abstract: Laboratory courses continue to play an important role in transitioning students from the lecture hall to the research lab, yet, when compared to theoretical courses, there is relatively little consensus on the goals of a laboratory course, and even fewer examples of rigorous assessment. At the University of Colorado Boulder, we have initiated a comprehensive effort to transform our lab courses and evaluate the impacts of these efforts, We have started with our capstone senior-level advanced lab course by establishing learning goals, renovating lab spaces, redesigning the course structure and curriculum, and actively developing assessments. The project highlights the value of collaboration between traditional faculty and physics education researchers. By working together have made significant strides and will report on This talk reports on the transformations assessments and outcomes of our transforms

April 02: Ben Spike - TA/LA Development: A framework for linking beliefs and practice

March 19: Charles Baily - Continuing discussions for transforming E&M II

March 12: Katie Hinko - University-Community Partnerships: Informal Physics Education and studies of engagement, student development, and institutional study.

Abstract: Transformative experience (TE) is a theoretical construct intended to describe, as well as assess, the extent to which science concepts learned in the classroom shape everyday meaning-making and engagement with science outside of the classroom. We are investigating TE in a range of undergraduate physics courses using a mixed-methods approach, including survey development to measure depth and prevalence of TE, case studies to better understand the nature of TE individual students' lives, and video ethnography to refine hypotheses about how TE is fostered in different settings. In this talk, I hope to motivate the potential significance of this work, share various aspects of the phenomena we are encountering, and engage a critical discussion of our own theoretical meanderings.

March 5: Charles Baily - Transformations of 2nd Semester Electricity and Magnetism II

He will be reviewing the work we've done on 3320 (E&MII) since last summer, giving a synopsis of what's happened and going over some of the lessons we've learned along the way. It will be an informal presentation with plenty of discussion.

February 13: Ben Zwickl - Upper Division Lab transformation and assessments

February 6: Bethany Wilcox - Student Difficulties in E&M, tutorials that address these, and how we can assess them.

January 30: Ryan O'Block, Noah Finkelstein, Steve Pollock - PER-based discussion around Physics Plan 3, and the teacher certification requirements in physics

As a review, you might wish to look at the physics requirements and the CU Teach requirements. We will focus on the 1150 requirements and how we can modify this and address the Research Methods requirements of CU Teach.

January 23: Danny Caballero - Transforming Classical Mechanics--Fundamental changes to a fundamental course

Abstract: Course transformations in Quantum Mechanics and Electromagnetism at CU-Boulder have demonstrated the success of student centered instruction in upper-division physics courses. Recently, we have begun student centered transformations in a core major sequence course, Classical Mechanics I. We will report on the recent changes to the course to encourage student engagement in the lecture setting, the development of tutorials aimed to improve student understanding of complex topics, and the most recent investigations into student difficulties with topics which cross-cut courses. As part of our work, we conducted a survey of physics majors that has highlighted the need to introduce computational physics as part of the major sequence. We have recently begun systematic instruction in computational physics in Classical Mechanics, a topic which could be extended to other course transformations. We will discuss our approach to introducing this invaluable tool to our majors. We hope to engage the group in a lively discussion about the role of majors sequence in preparing students for their careers and how instruction might map to those needs.

Click here for an archive of events and meetings before 2012